If You’re Thinking of Marrying a Pastor (or Seminary Student)

I just saw on Facebook a friend of mine share a blog post from somebody else titled, “If you’re thinking about marrying a farmer, stop.” It made me think about my life as a pastor’s wife, and I figured I would write a similar thing.

If you’re thinking about marrying a pastor (or seminary student), you should think about what your life will be like.

You will never look at other pastors the same way again.

You will likely not feel like you have your own pastor again. Maybe not until your husband retires. I don’t know, we’re not there yet.

You will be a single parent on Sunday mornings and for most church functions. On Sunday mornings my husband is leading the service and preaching, so I’m always sitting with our children by myself unless we’re on vacation. And at church dinners and other functions, he’s working the room to make sure no one feels like he doesn’t love them and doesn’t want to say hello to them that day.

You will begin to despise the sound of a cell phone ringing.

You just might be left without your date/husband at a church Christmas dinner party when one of the party guests needs to be rushed to the hospital and he goes along to comfort the family.

You may have to sacrifice being near family and friends to follow God’s Call to lands unknown. Sometimes those lands are only 12 miles away from your mom, and sometimes they’re 1,000 or more. Your new church becomes your support group, and that can be a beautiful thing. Not to mention, mass communication makes living far away so much easier.

You may learn how to can food when you receive an abundance from parishioners’ gardens.

You may find that your children talk to everyone they encounter because they are used to people from church asking them how they are and giving them Christmas gifts. They receive more attention than most other children from church because church people love their pastor and his family.

You will understand best how sin affects the world around us as you may be brought into many people’s personal sufferings. Your husband certainly is. You may get to know those hurts or you may not, but your husband will know them all. That takes a toll on him. He will not be the same person that you married after he has served as a pastor for a few years.

Since he will be aware of the problems of most of the families in your church, you can’t be a nag. Being a pastor’s wife will teach you how to be a better communicator so that your husband can have a peaceful home.

You may go years without knowing the names of the people you talk to every Sunday. Everyone will know your name, but they will forget that they only have a few new names to remember (your husband + you + your kids) and you have dozens, and they won’t think to reintroduce themselves on a regular basis until you have their name committed to memory. And unless you’re bolder than I am, you may feel awkward asking them their names multiple times. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve asked my husband, “who was I talking to just then?”

You may be given a car that a parishioner was getting ready to part with anyway, just because one of your cars died.

You may get to live in the largest, nicest home you’ve ever lived in since moving out of your parents’ house when your church has a nice parsonage for you.

You may get to learn all kinds of new things about different kinds of people by living in different kinds of places. We’ve lived on Long Island, NY, in suburban St. Louis, MO, and small town North Dakota. We’ve had churches filled with businessmen, doctors, dentists, nurses, teachers, and farmers. God’s people are everywhere and they are kind and loving people wherever you go. That makes new environments easier to adapt to.

You may learn that picking a church based on finding friends for your kids is the wrong attitude. We would much rather our kids be founded on the Word of God with a sure faith in Jesus than be surrounded by lots of children their ages. Granted, a pastor doesn’t get to just pick the church he serves unless another church Calls him. Then he has to choose between where he already is and the other place.

You may find that you need to have hobbies to make friends outside of church where you aren’t known as the pastor’s wife. Or you may find that you don’t know anybody where you live outside of your church, because the church is your life. That will depend on your personality.

If you’re like my husband and me, your perpetual joke will be, “see you in Heaven.”

You will have friends/acquaintances all over the country/world by developing relationships with other pastors and their families and the people that attend whatever congregations your husband serves over the years.

You may end up somewhere where people are very critical of your parenting, or you may end up somewhere where people are very understanding about children. We’ve been both.

You may feel like a failure as a wife and a mother, but that’s just a normal part about being a woman! Forgiveness and communication are vital aspects of a good relationship. Remember those things, and even if you’re crazy enough to marry a pastor, you will live a happy life where you can’t imagine living any other way.

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The Call Process: A Pastor’s Wife’s Perspective

the-divine-call My husband is a pastor. I met him when he was a Seminary student, so his intention to serve Christ and the Church has always been a part of our life, the center of our life, really.

He is rostered to serve in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. An LCMS pastor’s first parish is assigned to him straight from Seminary. After that he is generally available to receive a Call from any of our member congregations, at which time he must choose between the Call he already serves and the Calling congregation.LCMS Cross

My husband graduated from Seminary in 2009, and from there he served at a church on Long Island in New York. We lived there for about three years until he received a Call from a church in St. Louis County, Missouri. He chose to accept that Call, and we have lived here for a little over four years.

On the evening of August 7, my husband received a phone call from a Calling congregation in southeast North Dakota. Now this Call could not be more different from the parish my husband currently serves.

In Missouri, we live in a large suburb of a good-sized city, the county and the city comprise of about 1.3 million people. Our congregation is large enough that we have three worship service times. We have a thriving school with about 200 students.

In North Dakota, we would be living in a town with about 650 people, 73 miles from the nearest city. It is a dual parish, which means two small churches that are 6 miles apart. And it has no school. The whole town only has one K-12 public school.

These kinds of decisions are very difficult to make. We had been living very comfortably, making plans for the future here, and then given an opportunity that causes us to rethink everything. I really dislike not knowing what to do, where to go, or when it will happen. Some pastors may take the entire weight of these decisions upon their own shoulders, which is understandable being that they are making a choice about their vocation and occupation, but my husband values my opinion. He would never make me do anything or move somewhere that I don’t want to go.

So we have spent a lot of time researching, talking, not sleeping very well, and agonizing over what we are going to do. Thankfully our children are young enough (9, 7, 5, and 3) that they are really flexible and would be happy to live in either place. I’m sure they don’t quite understand what living 5 hours from the nearest family really means, but my husband and I are just grateful that the kids are flexible and that we homeschool, so that we don’t have to factor those things into the decision too much.

My husband spends his time contemplating the two congregations, analyzing where both ministries ohmcardare going, and determining his gifts, passions, strengths, and weaknesses and which place he could serve best. He is a very perceptive, analytical, and thoughtful man. He can and will think of all angles during this deliberation process.

I spend my time thinking about how different these two places are, how I spend my time, how I would spend my time, what we would be leaving, what we would be gaining, etc. One thing that I determined early in our marriage was that I am not opposed to living anywhere, and I would go anywhere with my husband. We have a very close and strong relationship, and as long as we are together we will do anything together.

So, ultimately this decision still ends up primarily on my husband’s shoulders, as I am not the pastor. He is. He is the one that must think about which parish needs him in particular the most. I trust him wholeheartedly to make the right decision for our family. And I will gladly stay or go where my husband decides he needs to be.

 

Review: Family Vocation: God’s Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood

Family Vocation: God's Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood
Family Vocation: God’s Calling In Marriage, Parenting, And Childhood by Gene Edward Veith Jr.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was a good explanation of vocation in relationships. As a Christian, I have thought of many of the things written in this book before, but it still had good reminders for me in my vocations as wife and mother, and good thoughts for passing on my values to my children. Having a strong family is difficult as a sinner and in the society we inhabit, but through forgiveness and remembering to love and serve our neighbors we can find comfort in the cross of Jesus, that He has redeemed our failings and that He will help us along the way.

View all my reviews

Life in the Everyday

It seems as if there is always something popping up for me to do that gets in the way of what I want to do. A diaper needs changing, a meal needs cooking, laundry needs folding,  

 the kitchen needs cleaning, the garden needs weeding, etc. The list never ends. There is always something getting in the way of what I am doing. 

But what is it that I am doing that is so important? Why do I think that catching up on the news, scrolling through Facebook, or playing a game on my phone are so important? These things certainly provide me with knowledge, information, and entertainment, but are they important?

No. They are not. Folding the laundry for the five other people in my care, cleaning our dishes and cooking our meals are important. It is so easy to get annoyed by these daily tasks. But these daily tasks are the important work.

I need to remind myself the next time that life interrupts me out of my laziness that it is the life that I have been given. It is not mundane or ordinary. It is my life. And life is precious. 

Election, a Comforting Doctrine

I was browsing Facebook this morning, as I typically do over breakfast, and I came across this article posted by the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod which talks about recruiting new church workers, especially among young adults. Talking about recruitment is all fine and good, but recruitment makes the Church sound like a business over which we have control.

Somehow the Church always seems to get caught up in the idea that we have control over who believes and who doesn’t based on our own efforts. Yes, we need to encourage people, young men especially, to go into church work. However, articles like this always bring about the same debates over how we raise our youth, how to retain them, and then ultimately how worship style preferences or lack of female pastors in our synod or the color of our carpets push people outside of the Church.

We put so much stock into our own efforts! What we fail to recognize is that when we start arguing over what we’re doing that is causing people to fall away from the Church or to not believe that we are contradicting what Scripture says about belief/faith. Romans 9:16 says, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” We’ve been studying the book of Romans in Sunday morning Bible study at church for about the past year or so. The whole section of chapters 9-11 are discussing why some believe and why some do not, especially among those that are Jewish by birth. But we could also look at these chapters today in relation to those that are raised in Christian homes but do not believe.
Romans 9:30-33 says,

What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, as it is written,

“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”

Forgiveness of sins in Jesus Christ, a work that is completed and not requiring of any effort of our own, is a stumbling block for many people. So many want to be able to contribute to their salvation with their own hands. But this is not what we believe, teach, and confess. Our Lutheran Confessions, which are entirely drawn from the written Word of God, speak on the doctrine of Election, which answers the question, to the best of the writers’ ability, of why some are saved and not others. Just in the Small Catechism (in the explanation to the Third Article of the Apostles’ Creed) we learn that

I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to Him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with His gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith. In the same way He calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies the whole Christian Church on earth, and keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one true faith. In this Christian Church He daily and richly forgives all my sins and the sins of all believers. On the last day He will raise me and all the dead, and give eternal life to me and all believers in Christ. This is most certainly true.

If we cannot even bring ourselves to faith, then what makes us think that we can bring others to faith? Yes, maybe our mouth is the medium by which a person hears the Word of God. However, it is the Holy Spirit working in that person’s heart which brings him to confess that Jesus is Lord. Election is meant to be a comforting doctrine, a Word of Truth for easing a troubled conscience, so that even when we sin we know that God still loves and forgives those who have faith in Him. Article XI of the Epitome of the Formula of Concord says,

However, “many are called, but few are chosen” [Matthew 22:14]. This does not mean that God is unwilling to save everybody. But the reason some are not saved is as follows: They do not listen to God’s Word at all, but willfully despise it, plug their ears, and harden their hearts. In this way they block the ordinary way [Luke 16:29-31] for the Holy Spirit so He cannot perform His work in them. Or, when they have heard God’s Word, they make light of it again and ignore it. But their wickedness is responsible for this (that they perish), not God or His election (2 Peter 2:1-3; Luke 11:49-52; Hebrews 12:25-26).

Unbelievers do not believe because they do not want to, not because believers didn’t do enough to accommodate them.

The Church should do the work that God has given us to do. We are to serve our neighbor in our various vocations (e.g. baker, parent, truck-driver, hairdresser, etc.) and in doing so speak His Word, as that is what a Christian does. And we should take comfort knowing that even in our failures God’s will is done. His Elect will be saved.

Happy Birthday, Grandma

So, this is a day late, but happy birthday to this blog’s namesake! Yesterday was my grandma’s 74th birthday.

When I was a kid we often would eat lunch with Grandma at her house on Mondays after our homeschool choir and band practice. We would typically eat grilled cheese, although Grandma called it cheese toast. Sometimes we would eat tomato soup, also.

Snacks at Grandma’s house would consist of cream cheese on a popsicle stick, an ice cream cone with either vanilla or sherbet ice cream, Fig Newtons, or marshmallows. We would have tea parties with the toy tea set, or play grocery store with the toy cash register and the boxes and containers that Grandma would save. We would listen to her play the piano and would sometimes play for her. We would watch Disney sing-alongs or the animal videos that she had on her TV.

My Grandma is a thoughtful, kind, and gentle woman. I am so thankful to be a part of her family and to know her.

Happy birthday, Grandma! I love you.

Birthday Tribute

Today is my grandpa’s 74th birthday. He is a hard working, wise, Christian man. He grew up with a big family in a tiny home. He became an engineer and lived very frugally. He was a good father and raised all four of his children to be hard working, God fearing people.

My mom, her sisters, and her brother all married well and have raised/are raising hard working, God fearing children. My grandparents have fifteen grandchildren. Three of us are married, so they have nine great-grandchildren with one on the way. It has been a joy having such young grandparents because my children will have the opportunity to know their great-grandparents on my mother’s side fairly well, provided God continues to bless them with good health.

My grandfather’s legacy is not just in hard work, faith in Jesus, and good parenting. My grandfather has been an exemplary representation of a husband to his wife, my grandmother, this blog’s namesake.

My grandparents have been married for 54 years. Their life together has not been easy. It has been tainted with loss and illness, but my grandfather is a shining example of faithfulness, love, and service to his wife.

He can be proud of the family and life that he and my grandma have built with the help of The Lord.

Happy birthday, Grandpa! Thank you for being the man that you are. I love you.